2024 Master Gardener Volunteer Recruitment & FAQs

Do you love gardening? Or maybe you just want to learn more? Are you interested in being a part of a community of volunteers and sharing your gardening training with the residents in our county? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Find out what is involved in becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) for UF/IFAS Extension Orange County.

FAQ’s of the Orange County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

  1. What is the Master Gardener Volunteer Program?
    • The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a citizen-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the residents of Florida. The program relies on dedicated volunteers who have an interest in gardening and in giving back to their communities. Orange County’s Master Gardener Volunteer Program has been serving the citizens of Orange County since 1981.The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program recruits individuals who are interested in gardening and enjoy sharing what they learn with others. Participants complete 70+ hours of training sponsored by the University of Florida and the local county Extension office. Upon completion of the educational material, candidates then complete 75 hours of volunteering within their first year to become certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer. After their first year, volunteer hour requirement drops to 35 hours a year.
  2. I am interested in the Master Gardener Volunteer training but don’t want to volunteer, can I still take the training?
    • The Master Gardener Volunteer training is reserved for candidates looking to volunteer and serve our county. If you are interested in gardening classes I encourage you to check our Eventbrite page monthly for new offerings!
  3. I am a landscape professional, can I take the Master Gardener Volunteer training for professional development or CEUs?
  4. I am interested in becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer, but the training days don’t work for my schedule. Can I still become a MGV?
    • We know that the current training schedule won’t work for everyone and we are doing our best to coordinate an evening program in the future! Please check back next year.
  5. How do I become a Master Gardener Volunteer?
    • The MGV recruitment process is rigorous due to high demand and limited seat capacity. Due to the intense planning process, the training only happens once a year in the Fall. The statewide process involves: An application, interview, Florida Criminal Background Check, reference checks, and submitting a non-refundable payment of $275 (to cover enrollment + supplies, limited scholarships available) after acceptance into the program.
  6. What qualities are you looking for in volunteers?
    • The beauty of the MGV program is that we teach you the science of gardening! No gardening experience or expertise required. We are looking for candidates who are interested in volunteering in our Plant Clinic, engaging in youth development opportunities, assisting in our Demonstration Gardens, and being a part of our Speakers Bureau to teach classes around our county. The ideal candidate has a learning mindset and is open to new experiences.
  7. When are the trainings? 
    • Trainings will take place every Tuesday from Sept. 3 to Dec. 10, excluding Sept. 24th and Nov. 26th. Candidates must be available throughout the duration of the fall semester.
      • Trainings are on Tuesdays from 10 am-3 pm and rotate between the Orange County office (6021 S. Conway Rd., Orlando, FL 32812) and the Osceola County office (921 Kissimmee Valley Ln., Kissimmee, FL 34744).
      • Only 1 excused absence will be accepted during the training period.
  8. I have a 2 week trip planned during the training window, can I still apply?
    • Due to the amount of content covered each week, we only allow for 1 excused absence during the training. I encourage you to remain on our mailing list and wait until next year.
  9. What does a “hybrid” training mean?
    • To reduce the number of hours in the classroom, a digital classroom has been set up for volunteer trainees to watch pre-recorded assigned videos throughout the week, then come to a half-day in person class for hands-on activities, guest speakers, and Q+A. You do not need to be “tech-savvy” but must be willing to learn new platforms. Application, interview, “digital classroom,” and volunteer records are all managed digitally.

2024 Recruitment Season

  • Informational Meetings (optional, not required)Clarissa standing in front of the stage in the auditorium ready to teach:
  • Applications Open: July 1
  • Applications Close: July 19
  • Interviews: July 29-Aug 2
  • MGV Admission Notifications: Aug 9
  • Registration Payments Accepted: Aug 9- Aug 16
  • 1st class (Zoom): Aug. 20
  • Trainings: Sept. 3-Dec 10 (with the exception of thanksgiving week)

MGV Application & Enrollment Process

  • Must be a resident of Orange County.
  • Submit an application (July 1-19).
  • Attend an interview with the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator.
  • Pass a Florida Criminal Background Check.
  • Provide 3 references.
  • Submit non-refundable payment of $275 (includes 8 resource books, training manual, nametag, fieldtrip admission, and a polo) after acceptance into the program.
  • Have internet access and a valid email address.
  • Open-minded to sharing research-based horticulture.
  • You do not need to be “tech-savvy,” but you do need to have a learning mindset and ability to learn.
  • No formal or prior horticulture experience required!

MGV Trainee Requirements

  • Weekly lectures, assignments, and quizzes are to be completed by corresponding deadlines. Weekly homework requirements range from 3-10 hours a week, and it is the responsibility of the trainee to come to class prepared.
  • Trainees must be available during the entire duration of the training schedule. Only 1 excused absence will be permitted.
    • Trainings are every Tuesday, Sept. 3-Dec 10, from 10 am – 3 pm. No class on Sept. 24 and Nov. 26.
  • Trainees must volunteer 75 hours in the following calendar year after course completion.
    • At least 25 hours should be dedicated to volunteering in our Plant Clinic.
    • Volunteer trainees are expected to work the duration of the Garden Festival & Plant Sale (March 1, 2025, 8:30 am – 3 pm) with at least 1 shift with the parking committee. Exceptions will be made for those with limited physical mobility. 
  • Trainees must earn 10 hours of Continuing Education in the following calendar year after course completion.
  • Final Project: Create a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation and corresponding handout.

The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a warm and welcoming environment of like-minded people. We have monthly Lunch & Learn luncheons hosted by the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, monthly garden gatherings hosted by fellow volunteers, yearly field trips, yearly conferences, and much more! We look forward to welcoming new members into our program!

To be added to the mailing list for information on the next recruitment season, please click here. https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7R62HHrfZ6XyjhI.

The fall is an exciting time for the Master Gardener Volunteer program and we look forward to welcoming new members! If you have questions about the Orange County MGV program, please reach out to Clarissa Chairez, Residential Horticulture Agent/Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, at Clarissachairez@ufl.edu. Happy Gardening!

Posted: April 2, 2024

Category: Community Volunteers, HOME LANDSCAPES, Horticulture
Tags: Gardening, Horticulture, Landscape, Master Gardener, Master Gardener Volunteer, Master Gardener Volunteers, New Vegetable Gardener, OC MGV, Ocextension, Orange County Master Gardener Volunteers, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories